Nevis Hardware Guide

An overview of the computer hardware available.


Data-analysis tasks at Nevis are now typically performed on Linux systems. The majority of the Linux systems at Nevis are part of a cluster. The systems and services offered by the cluster are constantly changing, as faster and more capable small systems become available.

In general, each working group at Nevis has its own set of Linux servers and workstations. The computing staff maintains central administrative servers that provide common services to the working-group clusters.

For common use by students and teachers at Nevis, in the reserach building we have:

The Electronics Lab and the HiRes group also have some Windows and Linux systems, but these are generally kept isolated from the rest of the Linux network. The astrophysics and RARAF groups also have computer systems, but they are not managed by the Nevis research computing staff.

Windows systems

We have about two dozen IBM PC-compatible desktops running Windows 2000 or XP. Due to the manpower limitations at Nevis, we try to limit the use of Windows machines where possible. However, there are some applications that are only available on Windows systems; for example, administrative services, project management, and electronic design and testing programs. Windows machines continue to be supported for such uses.

All Windows desktop systems at Nevis are protected by Norton AntiVirus, published by Symantec. If you are a Columbia student or employee, you are entitled to download a copy of this program under a University-wide site license. You will need to get an Columbia UNI account and password if you don't already have one.

By default, Norton AntiVirus (NAV) updates its database of known viruses once a week. Given the frequency of new viruses, it's best to perform this update at least once per day. Here's how to increase the update frequency, using the Windows version of NAV:

It is also wise to make sure that a Windows machine has all the latest software patches from Microsoft. Update instructions are available from Columbia's Administrative Information Services.


Due to ease of use and maintenance, the use of Macs is heavily encouraged (at least by the systems administrator). There are one or two Mac desktops used for strictly administrative purposes, but unfortunately there are no general-use Macs currently available at Nevis. However, some of the scientific staff are using Mac laptops.